Posted on November 8, 2017 by Joanna Carver

Launching the careers of business students is the goal of the college’s Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD).

Business Student LeadersWhen the doors to the CSPD first opened in 2007, the mission of the center was twofold. First, provide business students with comprehensive career development services that allow them to gain a competitive edge in attaining internships and employment.

Second, partner with local, regional and national employers to meet their employment needs.

“The CSPD provides professional development opportunities that allow students to hone their skills, define their goals and launch their careers,” said Lisa Montoya, associate dean of professional development and international business programs.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this October, the CSPD has stayed true to its original mission, but the scope of services offered by the center has expanded exponentially.

One way that services have expanded includes the addition of graduate professional development programming this fall for the college’s 1,000 graduate students.

To better ascertain their needs, graduate students were surveyed, and focus groups were held last spring. Based on the needs analysis more than 50 percent of the respondents were looking for a new position upon completing their degree. And, the top request for training was learning how to negotiate a job offer.

“We’ve developed an array of workshops and boot camps to meet the professional development needs of our graduate students,” said Jenna Wallace, assistant director for graduate career development. “We’ve tried to make our programming more accessible. We plan on creating online resources that students will be able to access at any time and place.”

Throughout the year, the center hosts more than 50 events that help students develop a balanced portfolio of
career acumen, leadership development, industry knowledge and personal image enhancement.

The center’s signature program is the Career Action Program (CAP). Offered each semester, CAP is a 17-hour professional development program that includes a comprehensive overview of résumé writing, interviewing, networking and business etiquette.

CAP kicks off with an all-day conference that introduces students to the finer points of the business world. Additional components include mock interview sessions led by potential employers as well as speed networking sessions with business professionals.

Since its inception in 2008, more than 3,200 business students have completed the program, with many receiving job and internship offers because of the experience.

“The CSPD helped prepare me professionally and exposed me to a variety of employers,” said Karla Cruz, ’16, a marketing associate at Eli Lilly. “Now, I’m hoping to help open the door for other UTSA students at Eli Lilly.”

The program has expanded to include specialized content for graduate students including workshops on networking, social media, digital hiring practices and negotiation. This spring the CSPD will launch an Evening CAP that will better serve students who have daytime commitments. The goal is to have 100 participants in the inaugural session. Looking toward the future, the CAP program goal will expand to serve all business undergraduates.

“I think the challenge of growing the program is helping students recognize its value,” said Montoya. “CAP is like magic—we pull back the curtain and give away the secrets for succeeding professionally.”

Another key component of scaling up the CSPD’s reach is the use of online training and resources. Beginning this fall, the center has partnered with VMock, an online résumé software platform, to provide free résumé analysis for all business students. The program allows students to upload their résumé, receive instant feedback and be benchmarked against their peers. Following the analysis students learn what skills and competencies to focus on to increase their marketability.

“This tool is available to every student in the College of Business and is accessible 24 hours a day,” said Aimee Laun, senior associate director of the Center for Student Professional Development. “It is a valuable resource, and it will free up staff resources for new programming efforts.”

In an attempt to reach more business students, the CSPD will bring professional development programming directly into classrooms this spring as part of a weeklong Business Career Days program. Industry speakers across a wide variety of disciplines will be invited to provide guest lectures in business classes. The UTSA program will give students access to business leaders as part of their academic schedule.

Helping students expand their horizons, the CSPD in partnership with the college’s International Business Programs Office is taking 20 undergraduate and master’s students to Dallas this fall to visit two Fortune 500 companies. Students will spend the morning at AT&T learning about international business opportunities. Then they will visit Southwest Airlines in the afternoon to learn about global operations and job opportunities.

“Our goal is to continue to bring more value to our students,” said Montoya. “We want students to consider their opportunities and think big.”

Interfacing with the business community, the CSPD delivers customized recruitment experiences for employers. “We are dedicated to serving as a resource to the business community,” said Nancy Scott Jones, associate director of the CSPD. “We support employers through the entire recruitment process and work closely with the University Career Center to find fulfilling careers for our students.”

The UTSA CSPD partners with more than 70 companies and 110 corporate volunteers each semester who volunteer their time to coach students while also recruiting for the next generation of employees and business leaders. The EY Leadership Suites serve as the college’s recruitment home. Established in 2012 with a lead gift from EY, the suites provide first-class interview and professional development space for business students and employers.

The center hosts companies for on-campus interviews, information sessions, networking receptions, industry panels and career expos throughout the year.

“I’m honored to partner and work closely with UTSA’s CSPD,” said Porcsha Presley, ’12, executive recruiter at Rackspace. “UTSA students are phenomenal. Employers should know that you could find your next CEO at UTSA and that you get a larger return on your investment growing future business leaders.”

Wendy Frost—

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— Joanna Carver